Kilifi has been a lovely stop – a sheltered anchorage on a secure mooring, a delightful little yacht club patronized by locals, a good well stocked town and a great gang of cruisers to play with. A couple days after we arrived Ian was checking the port fwd cabin bulkhead and found some rot. Hopefully it was to be just a small section but the more he checked the more he found. Solution? A complete rebuild of both the horizontal and vertical bulkheads in the cabin. He had some plywood and glass – not quite enough but with the Kilifi boatyard 100m away it seemed like the best option was to do it here.
Of course a 2 week job turned into a 4 week job with the obvious increase in cost but it was important that it was fixed. The heat was oppressive and the tight working space made conditions horrible but with Ian’s patience and tenacity he managed to get the whole thing rebuilt and glassed within the month.
There are 4 others boats here in Kilifi. Phil from PaSeafique arrived a few days after us on his own as Lesley had gone back to Australia. The 5 boats spent the obligatory Saturday afternoons socialising at the yacht club meeting the locals and enjoyed all the Christmas and New Year festivities. We went on a carol singing/boozy night at the Vipingo club – a gated community where the President even has a house. Beautifully set out in manicured African style gardens with traditional buildings, we enjoyed the kids singing while we drank our mulled wine. Very English.
We spent Christmas day with our friends Nick and Cynthia and their adorable little 3 yr old Percy who were just 40 minutes away in Mtwapa. We had been so looking forward to staying with them – since Nick had moved to Kenya 7 years ago. We caught the bus down where Nick met us and we then jumped in a tuk tuk and went off to his home. We had a jamming session on the terrace after dinner and did more reminiscing and then later on when it was cooler we jumped on some motor bikes and went into the centre of town which was thumping. There was music spilling out of every bar and restaurant and there were masses of them. Everyone was in such a great mood – it was very busy and loud.
We had a lovely Christmas with them. On Christmas day the apartment complex opened their brand new swimming pool but during the day it was full of kids so we waited until about 8pm and then went down and had a very welcome swim – no walls, no life guard and no life buoys – the Australian health and safety guys would have heart failure!
We needed to see a Dr as Ian had a bite that had developed into a tropical ulcer so on Boxing day we went to the local Aga Khan medical centre for some treatment. There are Aga Khan medical centres and hospitals all over East Africa and they are very western and up to date. That afternoon we went to The Moorings- a great floating restaurant on the creek itself. We will come back this way and anchor in the creek – they can then just wander down to the Moorings and we can pick them up from there. Very civilised… all too soon we had head back as Ian was keen to finish his project on the bulkheads. We also had a few trips with the cruising gang organised – got to see the sights…
The next evening we all headed over to the backpackers here called ‘Distant Relatives’. This backpackers is famous as it started the Kilifi New Year festival here a few years ago which became so successful it outgrew the gardens of the backpackers and is now held near the yacht club. On Friday night they hold a pizza and music night which was really good. They had a stage set up with hay bales and hammocks to laze about in, had live musicians, sold great pizzas and so we hung around listening to the music for a few hours and then wandered down to the beach to pick up the yacht club dinghy back to our boats.
At 2.50am the next morning we were woken by someone calling our names. Ian got up to investigate and found the night watchman on our boat asking us to come urgently to our friends boat as there was a medical emergency. I couldn’t guage whether it was an accident or an illness but he seemed to think it was not an accident so I grabbed the drug bag and we went with him. As we came up to our friends boat we saw Phil on deck shouting out that he needed an ambulance urgently as our friend was now unconscious. He had suffered a grand mal seizure and was now non-responsive. His wife was terrified he had suffered a stroke. There was really nothing we could do – he was in the coma position and safe from any harm, so all we could do was wait for him to come round. The yard Manager Peter came over but the logistics of getting an unconscious man out of a fwd cabin, up a steep companionway, across a cockpit, into a dinghy, up a steep flight of steps onto a jetty and across to a waiting ambulance were too difficult to contemplate. We were worried we may injure him more but we had to get him to medical assistance somehow. He started coming too about 25 minutes after the seizure and when he looked up, saw me sitting on his bed and said “what are you doing in here!!” I was so relieved…. He seemed quite lucid though muddled. He took a while to gain enough strength to walk out to the dinghy himself but Peter was able to get him to his car and off to the hospital. His wife went with him and so we went back to our own boats. Ian said to me later on that he would not have known what to do in that situation, especially if we had been alone without other cruisers around and especially without a local who had a car and knowledge of the area to get to a hospital. We were suddenly faced with the one situation we may have no control over – a medical emergency – and it frightened us. In this situation our friend was lucky that we were all together and medical assistance was close by. The next morning he was back on board. He didn’t remember much about it but had been checked out and released. Later on in the week they went down to Mombassa and had a MRI to discount a tumour and other tests and he was given the all clear. We were all very relieved – no-one knows why but we found out later that 49% of seizures in older people are unknown causes and never happen again.
After all the excitement of the night before we all took a matatu (The local mini bus) to Watamu to see the Gede ruins. These are the ruins of an old Arab trading town going back to the 1300’s. This city was completely obscured by forest and the government started excavating it in 1948. It is surprising in that it was such an advanced place. There was a mosque, a sultans palace, a courthouse and many houses made from coral all connected with proper streets. They found flushing toilets and evidence of running water. They also found Ming vases and Venetian glass which shows that this Muslim community traded with cultures outside their own and developed this incredible place. It was a peaceful place and very different from the typical Kenyan towns of today.
We then all headed off for a bush picnic to a place we were told the elephants came down at dusk to drink. It was down a very long dusty broken down track but opened out into this large area where we could clearly see the waterhole. We waited…. and waited… but no elephants came. We had a lovely dinner though and enjoyed the evening but it was soon pitch black so we packed up and headed back to Kilifi. The next night Bill came down and saw a herd of about 30 elephants there !
The next day was the highlight of our visit to Kilifi. The Kilifi New Years Festival. This started off as a small music festival which has now grown into an international success story. This year over 7000 tickets sold with many people coming from Europe just for the festival. 3 stages, amazing artwork, great food, fabulous African music, lovely bush setting – it was all there. 8 of us set off for a day and night of fun and I just loved it. They had a 30m high statue to burn on the final night but we didn’t get to see that. Everything about it was brilliant but it’s hard to describe the ambience – just very African and spiritual. It ended up with 5 of us (we lost Terry) squashing into a tuk tuk to come home.
The next night was New Years eve and we all rafted up further into the creek to bring in the New Year. All the big boats started arriving after lunch and during the afternoon all the smaller boats from the club came and rafted up to us. We had eight boats rafted up to us in the end. The little boats left after dark as they all had private parties in Kilifi to attend – but one boat nearly didn’t make it because as he motored away his engine caught fire which was quite dangerous. There were 3 teenagers on board as well as the parents and it was on fire for quite a while before they managed to extinguish it. We all sighed in relief and they were towed back to the club.
Meanwhile we all had an impromptu New Years eve party on Laluna – with dreadful singing, lots of food and booze and a fun welcome to 2019. It’s great when you only have to stagger across 6 other boats to find your bed….
The next morning we had Bloody Mary’s and a full bacon and egg breakfast on Brian’s boat which set us up for the long sail ahead to Lamu. We had decided to leave on 1st as the weather was changing rapidly and we wanted a safe and quiet passage, so with hugs and kisses we left everyone behind and headed back to the club where we waited for the low tide to get under the bridge and sail up the coast.
2019 – BRING IT ON